Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

by Alison Bechdel


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A fresh and brilliantly told memoir from a cult favorite comic artist, marked by gothic twists, a family funeral home, sexual angst, and great books.

This breakout book by Alison Bechdel is a darkly funny family tale, pitch-perfectly illustrated with Bechdel's sweetly gothic drawings. Like Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, it's a story exhilaratingly suited to graphic memoir form.

Meet Alison's father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family's Victorian home, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with his male students and a family babysitter. Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and fiercely funny, we are drawn into a daughter's complex yearning for her father. And yet, apart from assigned stints dusting caskets at the family-owned "fun home," as Alison and her brothers call it, the relationship achieves its most intimate expression through the shared code of books. When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescense, the denouement is swift, graphic -- and redemptive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780618871711
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 06/05/2007
Series: Edition 001 Series
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 21,175
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

ALISON BECHDEL has been a careful archivist of her own life and kept a journal since she was ten. Since 1983 she has been chronicling the lives of various characters in the fictionalized “Dykes to Watch Out For” strip, “one of the preeminent oeuvres in the comics genre, period” (Ms.). The strip is syndicated in 50 alternative newspapers, translated into multiple languages, and collected into a book series with a quarter of a million copies in print. Utne magazine has listed DTWOF as “one of the greatest hits of the twentieth century.”

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Fun Home 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 116 reviews.
Jackie2794 More than 1 year ago
I was recommended Bechdel's Fun Home by a former English teacher of mine. As a fairly avid reader, I was excited to see what this book had to show me. They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I couldn't help but to be captivated by all of the praise and awards on the memoir's front and back cover as I initially looked it over. To my great dismay, the book ended up being kind of a disappointment. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Bechdel - her honest writing style and literary knowledge are both interesting and impressive, but the memoir simply did not resonate with me. I don't really know what to think of this memoir; there were aspects of the book that I really loved, and other aspects that were hard to sit through, but there was nothing about this memoir that I found to be particularly gripping. I will say that I am extremely impressed with the amount of hard work that went into this memoir. The graphic novel layout (drawn by Bechdel herself) is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and really shows how arduous it must have been to create. Bechdel's story is so well thought out that it is obvious that she has spent a lot of time preparing herself to write this memoir. My biggest disappointment with this memoir was that I found nothing enticing about Bechdel's story. I think Ms. Bechdel told her story of her troubled past with her father to have closure with her upbringing, as opposed to appealing to her readers. I didn't find this book to be extremely funny or extremely sad, it was a monotonous read, which is fine, but I was really looking for a gripping memoir similar to so many that I have read before. All in all, I would say that Fun Home is a story that is either hit or miss for readers. I think that many will enjoy Alison's story and appreciate her quirkiness, but others will simply just not see what all the hype is about.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was introduced to this book by my former roomate who grew up not too far from where Bechdel grew up and where most of the book takes place. At first I was weary of a graphic novel but I was enthralled by her use of elevated language and literary comparision. Each time I read it I find something new, if not within the text then the pictures themselves. Her novel peeked my interest in her other works and have become a Bechdel fan. I had the pleasure of meeting her and I must say she is a woman of great intelligence and is suprisingly humble. I would agree that this book is not for everybody. But those with open minds able to appreciate a non-tradtional book with an equally different story then please by all means go forth and enjoy this book!
wagnerclassiccars More than 1 year ago
I expect a bit more from something repeatedly called “dark comedy.” The Fun House is Gothic and is a funeral home, but this isn’t Six Feet Under. The story is dark but there is little humor. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had not been under the illusion it was “darkly funny.” 
Guest More than 1 year ago
A brilliant escapade into the life a young woman and an exploration of finding herself. Beautiful and far more reading intensive then other Graphic Novels/Memoirs, Fun home is beautiful in everyway. The parallels between Joyce, Fitzgerald, James, and many others is astounding. Not since Blankets have I fell in love with a Graphic Novel to this magnitude and not in a long while have I read something this eloquent, brilliant, and poigant.
maritimer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The whole graphic thing works well in this captivating memoir. If Fun House is therapy for author Alison Bechdel, I am thinking it is working. Literature and reading are pivotal throughout the book and they lend substance to the graphic format, while the illustrations make the mix of literature, family dysfunction, and sexual subterfuge just light enough to be accessibly coherent for readers. Prior to reading Fun House, I heard the author interviewed, and I was struck by the overwhelming self-involvement of her enterprise. In the end though, this is mostly okay - because she pulls it off and because it is after all, a dissection of a complex father-daughter relationship that requires intense introspection. The troubling unspoken elements for me however, were the strands that extended beyond this tight family focus, mostly those young men that her father befriended along the way: what about their stories, what became of them?
the_awesome_opossum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From its title, Fun Home connotes so many motifs of this graphic memoir: a cavalier nickname for the family's funeral home, an ironic description for Alison Bechdel's childhood that is both tense and pretense, and an association with carnivalesque "fun houses," where everything is distorted and unreal. Alison tells her childhood/coming out memoir through a lens of her father's suspected suicide when she was twenty. Hindsight lends a lot of depth to her complicated relationship with him; they were both gay and both "knew" about one another but could hardly talk about it within the confines of their appearance as a normal Catholic suburban family. Still, if they never got the hang of a father-daughter relationship properly, they did become intellectual partners over a shared hobby of reading. Fun Home is dense with intertextuality, references to literature through which Alison and her father connected.All in all, the memoir ends up bittersweet (or, as the subtitle suggests, a "tragicomic"). Alison never reduces her relationship with her father to anything saccharine or perfectly understood, but leaves it both complicated and cut short by his suicide.
ldarrow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fun Home is a place strange, quirky and miss-able, but also stifling. Bechdel's illustrations are more cartoonish than Knisley's (they remind me of Daniel Clowes) and so is her setting. Bechdel's father spends his time decorating their Victorian house, perfecting it as a replica of an original and turning it in to a museum. It is this remarkable house that provides the backdrop for the story of Alison's coming out and the developing relationship between her and her father. Fun Home is, like French Milk, a coming-of-age story. Bechdel is growing up and beginning to gain the strange understanding that her parents are people, with secrets, and with whom she might have more in common than she could have imagined. Bechdel is brilliant, and her book is littered with references to literature and history and philosophy, which set the scene as well. I can't wait to read it again.
ironinklings on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alison Bechdel¿s coming of age tale is a difficult one. It was easy to sympathize with young Alison who must have been like a ship lost at sea. The coldness of her family home was palpable and mirrored that of the funeral home where her father worked. Other than being indentured servants to their father¿s fastidious home decor projects, there were no signs of outright abuse, but the lack of affection would be enough to cause any child psychological problems. It would have been easy for Bechdel to paint her father as the patriarchal tyrant, but she manages to make him somewhat sympathetic. Her ability to find humor in an otherwise grim story and her wonderful artwork kept me wanting to read more.
timtom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A witty, clever, tender, exquisitely drawn tale of a complex father-daughter relationship, Fun Home is the story of a double coming out. After a long litterary experimentation, the author finally discovers her own homosexuality at about the same time she learns that her father is gay. A few days later, his father having been killed in a car accident, Alison starts reviewing her childhood memories in the light of this new double revelation. Beautiful!
MaowangVater on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bechdel¿s memoir of growing up with her closeted gay father in rural Pennsylvania, where her parents taught English, and father worked in the family funeral home, or ¿Fun Home¿ as she and her brothers referred to it, might be characterized as tragi-ironic, more than tragicomic. It¿s a melancholy childhood of family secrets and alienation. It¿s the story of her father¿s death¿was it a suicide or an accident¿and of her relationship to him. It¿s constructed as a series of chapters that are meditative revelations, each one building on and revealing more than the previous one. Each one uses a different work of literature and its author as the reflecting mirror for her family life: the Greek myth of Icarus and his father Deadalus, A Happy Death by Albert Camus, Marcel Proust¿s In Search of Lost Time or as she translates it, ¿this means not just lost but ruined, undone, wasted, wrecked, and spoiled¿ (page 119), The Wind in the Willows, ¿The Ideal Husband¿ and ¿The Importance of Being Ernest¿ by Oscar Wilde, James Joyce¿s Ulysses, and Homer¿s original. Her reason for this abundance of literary references, she explains after comparing her father to a character in an F. Scott Fitzgerald book and her mother to one ¿right out of Henry James,¿ (page 66) ¿I employ these allusions to James and Fitzgerald not only as descriptive devices, but because my parents are most real to me in fictional terms. And perhaps my cool aesthetic distance itself does more to convey the Arctic climate of our family than any particular literary comparison.¿ (page 67) Part of the irony is that she learned of her father¿s hidden sexuality, only as a result of her coming out to her parents as a lesbian when she was in college only four months before he died. A few weeks after her letter home, her mother, not her father, called to tell her about it. Instead of an opportunity to talk about a common experience, it became another instance of their antipodal relationship. As she puts it earlier in the book, ¿I was Spartan to my father¿s Athenian. Modern to his Victorian. Butch to his Nelly. Utilitarian to his Aesthete.¿ (page 15).Yet the book begins and ends with scenes of her father catching her as she leaps into his arms. She has said that she is not angry with her father, although her affection for him reveals itself more clearly in her interviews with the press, than in the book. Her statement there is, ¿His bursts of kindness were as incandescent as his tantrums were dark.¿ (page 21) This is a highly lauded book that deserves every bit of its praise. Fun Home is a masterpiece of memoir drawn in black and white cartoons tinted in shades of blue.
irishwasherwoman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this highly-honored book even though I could not identify at all with the writer, since I had a wonderful relationship with my father and did not have to face the angst that the author did in coming to grips with her sexual orientation. According to the cover, Time called this book ¿brilliant¿ and ¿hilarious.¿ ¿Brilliant¿ it is, but ¿hilarious?¿ I don¿t think so. Was it because it is in comic strip form? There was some levity in it, but the author deals with two very sobering subjects in a very respectful way. (Caution: explicit depictions of sex)
poetontheone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This singular book, through uncompromising, honesty, artistic skill, and thoughtful composition, has solidified the medium of graphic narrative as a serious art form not to be taken lightly. A awe-inspiring tale on the importance of family and how it impacts our lives.
ShaneCasebeer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Q: 3P: 3Annotation: A memoir from the author of "Dykes to Watch Out For" about her relationship with a father who is a funeral home director, high-school English teacher and a closeted homosexual.
andersonden on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The sub-title is quite accurate, but it's redemptive in a way, too.
corinneblackmer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alison Bechdel, author of "Dykes to Look Out For," tells and retells a remarkable story, studded with literary allusions and comments about how what people read affect their personalities and choices, about the relationship between a closeted gay father and his open (and proud) lesbian feminist daughter. The father is a fanatical home re-decorator, who forces his children to live in a quasi-museum, and to serve as his workers in his various projects for rehabilitation. His closeted condition--and his frustration--do nothing but fuel his misspent emotional and aesthetic impulses. The narrator's parents divorce soon after she, in college, comes out to them and then, shortly thereafter, the father dies in a freak accident--run over by a truck as he transports some brush from one side of the road to another. Was his death a suicide? Did her father regard a life alone as a divorced gay man forced out of the closet intolerable? Perhaps. Perhaps he also conflates being open about his sexuality with an awful incident in which he almost loses his career because of his seduction of an underage teenager. The bleak blue-grey guache is perfect for this complex and evocative graphic novel, which shows considerable trust in the reader.
mjspear on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent graphic about a woman's coming of age -- and coming to terns with her sexuality, as well as her father's. I took a star off for the sometimes pedantic text. Will speak to women who are discovering their sexual orientation and is a great depiction of a father-daughter relationship.
artistlibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This graphic memoir is emotionally powerful while remaining enjoyable. Bechdel tackles subjects such as homosexuality, fidelity and death using text and images that are seriously tender, painstakingly rendered and suggestive. Exploring her past in the format of a graphic novel makes her story feel very personal. Drawing the reader in through colorless imagery, her text then elaborates on the sadness and struggle illustrated on the faces of her characters. She recounts growing up in rural Pennsylvania, focusing her memories on her relationship with her father. Discovering her own sexuality as she matures, Bechdel reflects on her childhood now knowing her father was gay. She is honest and insightful, sharing private details that occasionally make the read wince with sympathy and discomfort.
actonbell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my current book discussion group pick, and my first graphic novel. It's a very engaging and thought-provoking autobiography. I do have questions regarding Ms. Bechdel's perception of her father and a certain event, which probably makes it all the more interesting. I thought the style of the artwork had a Doonesbury influence, which may have been intentional, since it takes place mostly in the 1970s.
MeriJenBen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A woman looks back on the contradictions that made up her father's life and shaped her own understanding of the world in this challenging, non-linear graphic memoir.Alison and her two brothers grew up in a Gothic revival home that had been meticulously restored by her father. Alison describes her father as a master of making things look like something they weren't; this talent extends beyond the merely decorative, as Bruce Bechdel created the facade of a perfect family to hide his closeted sexuality. As Alison discovers her own homosexuality, she comes to see how her father's rigid standards have shaped who she is.This book is not an easy read, as it is spiral in nature -- the narrative circles around Bechdel and her father -- and Bechdel's literary references are challenging, to say the least. It is however, beautifully heartbreaking. The art, clean and economical, accented with aqua tones, serves the story perfectly. Bechdel's frankness is admirable, if somewhat uncomfortable, and it is her willingness to be open that would keep this book out of teen collections.
walkonmyearth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fun Home, A Family TragicomicThank you, Alison Bechdel. Thank you for trusting the reader; thank you for opening your journal and your life to me. This graphic memoir reveals so many hurts, truths, realities, and heartbreaks of the human condition. I related to so much of the parent/child relationship and viewing/reacting to emotions and situations that didn't match with what others expected. This memoir is refreshingly straight forward. Revelations, instead of coming across as raw, are thoughtful and powerful, stopping before poignant. After apparently analyzing her own feelings and emotions over the years, Bechdel has given us a truly intimate 2/21/2011
ChicGeekGirl21 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fun Home is Bechdel's autobiography from childhood to college, where she came out as a lesbian. It is also the story of her father, a closeted gay man who may or may not have taken his own life at the age of 43. Bechdel masterfully weaves these two stories together in a poetic, eloquent, and intimate way. Although the Bechdel family, who inherited a funeral home, or "fun home" as the kids called it, is far from ordinary, the situations and issues the family must deal with are recognizable to anyone--even those who have happy, "well-adjusted" families. Her relationship with her father, simultaneously distant and close (although her father was emotionally cold towards his family, he and Alison shared a love of books that brought them together) will probably hit home with many readers. Fun Home is not only one of my favorite graphic novels, it's one of my favorite books period.
blackhornet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was interesting to read a memoir in comic form. This graphic novel bears obvious comparison to Persepolis in that it tells the story of a young girl growing up in unusual circumstances. Persepolis, however, by dint of those circumstaces being of profound historical sigificance, is the more interesting read. Fun Home only has the weirdness of a single family upon which to draw. It certainly is weird, but nothing that interesting happens. And the characters are so miserable. I noticed one smiling face in over 200 pages of faces. Persepolis, by contrast, is full of joy and laughter in spite of the extreme circumstances.Fun Home seems popular with other LT reviewers, but I'm surprised that several draw attention to the quality of the writing, even commenting that most graphic novels rely too much of the pictures. Urr? Isn't that the point? And the writing in Fun Home strikes me as nothing out of the ordinary. There are plenty of literary references, which makes it fun for the widely read, but will do little to widen its appeal.
ametralladoras on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended!! Incredibly dark and intimate, yet comical. This memoir weaves the intricacies of life, death, sexuality, and family in one. Dark secrets that had been held tense in her family are spilled out across the page in Fun Home.
Citizenjoyce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is Alison Bechdel's story about her dad who was a closeted homosexual, a designer, an English teacher, a tireless worker, an inconstant father, a tyrant, part time mortician and probable suicide. It's a little graphic novel and she infuses it with so much meaning, so many opposites, so many ways to see the whole that she won't let the reader rest with just one idea about her family, she forces all the parts to be present at once. Maybe that's one of the reasons graphic novels can be so good (when they are good). The words have to be edited down as sparse and full as poetry. She says she's working on a novel about her mother now. I can't wait to read it.
_________jt_________ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I usually don't have a problem with jumpy narratives, but here I feel it did a disservice to my understanding of the characters. We find out close to the beginning of the book that there was general rejoicing among the Bechdel children on the event of Dad's death -- understandably so, since he was an overbearing asshole. However, later in the book, we learn of Alison's deepening relationship with her father as they find out each other is gay (that's a tortured construction, yes, but can't think how better to phrase it); it seems just as we're getting into some really interesting material, the book cuts off. I suppose that's how Bechdel might feel about the relationship itself -- intrigued, but unfulfilled.